Noveria – Maintaining EquilibriumFriday, 29th November 2019
Challenging conventional norms within power/progressive metal, Noveria since 2014 embody a versatile skill set when it comes to writing and performance through their discography. Incorporating a heaviness and diversity that can include elements of industrial, symphonic, and death metal – it’s evident that even as the Dream Theater/Symphony X-oriented intricacy and fluid interplay kicks in, there’s another level of insight to keep the band in their own lane so to speak. Their latest album Aequilibrium takes a real-life earthquake tragedy and puts it into fictional context for personal cathartic release as these musicians lived through the situation – the musically equally as riveting, containing the heaviness and sophistication plus hooks and melodies you would want in a progressive metal record.
We reached out to the band to answer some questions about their history, their previous albums, the lyrical content of the new record, as well as special guest choices and concerns they have about the world that we live in today. So read on with guitarist Francesco Mattei and drummer Omar Campitelli and learn more about this fine Italian quintet.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your earliest memories surrounding music growing up? How did you discover heavy metal and then decide to pick up an instrument and start performing in bands?
Francesco Mattei: I was eight or nine years old when I first listened to Queen from my mom’s Hi-Fi, and I was already air guitaring in front of the mirror while Brian May was slaying his poetry. Then it all went down in high school when I saw a friend from the town’s marching band where I was playing as well (I played tenor saxophone at the time) playing the guitar solo on “I Want It All” with such great attitude and perfection. That was the moment that made me want to be a guitarist no matter what.
A plan B in life was not an option. So the day after that I picked up my mom’s old acoustic guitar from the 70’s with 2 centimeters of distance between the strings and the neck and started killing my hands on it. After a few months of suffering, my Dad bought me a Stratocaster and three months later, I had my first gig as the lead guitarist in the town square with a band of friends, who were listening to metal. They’re still great friends and at the time they introduced me to Metallica and Symphony X, and that was mind blowing for me. I loved those bands to the point that I turned into a full-blown metal head!
Dead Rhetoric: Noveria started in 2014 – what can you tell us about the early formation of the band? Did you know straight away the type of power/progressive metal you wanted to develop, or was there a feeling out process through rehearsals and initial writing sessions to arrive at your style?
Mattei: Very cool question. Actually I approached the composition for Noveria by asking myself which type of band I would like to listen to. The answer came out pretty fast because I love a lot of things from the bands I listen to, but there was no such band that in my personal opinion had everything I was looking for. For example, I love Lamb of God with their killer riffing, attitude and songs, but they don’t have melodies like Queen or Jorn Lande (that’s just not their purpose of course). But I love a lot of melodic oriented stuff and a lot of virtuoso stuff, so I thought, why not mix those elements from different metal genres?
Another example is I love Dream Theater, but more their melodic parts and a bit less their ‘mathematic prog side’ with which I mean the long instrumental sections with weird beats. So why not just take what I love the most from every band and try to make it mine? So I had fun experimenting, and writing Risen came very natural to me. After writing our first record, I presented the pre-production material to the guys and they all loved the style and direction. After a few months, Noveria was ready to roll!
Dead Rhetoric: How do you look back upon your initial two albums Risen and Forsaken at this point in Noveria’s history? What would you consider the best aspects of each recording, and what do you feel you learned and improved upon for the future?
Mattei: I definitely look back at every album thinking that the results were the best we could have achieved at the time. We’re definitely proud of what we did in the past cause they’re good albums with good songs which we still like today. Risen and Forsaken are like photographs of the band at different moments in time and they’re the sum of our musical influences from a few years ago.
Music tastes change through the years though, as well as our approach to composing which has become more mature, if we can say that. Risen was a very ‘in your face’ type of album with lots of aggressiveness and faster-oriented tunes, while Forsaken showed different sides and nuances of Noveria without losing the dark heavy sound, but taking it on different emotional levels and points of view.
Dead Rhetoric: Aequilibrium is the latest Noveria record – quite an impressive mixture of power/ progressive metal with outside nuances of influences that also includes death, industrial, and symphonic aspects. What can you tell us about the recording and songwriting sessions for this material – were there any specific challenges, obstacles, or surprises that you encountered through the process?
Mattei: Acrually, there’s always some unpredictable stuff that pops out every record. This time I remember that I was just jamming a bit with the guitar and I played without thinking something kinds grungy with an open string. I thought, ‘what the heck is that? Let’s track it and see how it sounds’. It was the riff on “Losing You”, which is definitely a different type of riff from what I usually do. But I accepted it for its spontaneous nature, and I think it’s pretty cool to play. So sometimes it could be cool when, even if by mistake, you find yourself embracing something different that’s way outside your comfort zone. I guess we can call it growth.
About the recording process everything has been very smooth as usual, and I feel very lucky to have such incredible musicians as my bandmates. Especially, working with Simone Mularoni is always a guarantee to get things done the proper way!
Dead Rhetoric: Can you discuss the ideas behind the lyrical content for this record – as it involves a massive earthquake, the human mind and the discovery of a new life as a result? Is this based on real-life situations that happened to the members personally, or more of a fictional account?
Mattei: The idea for the main concept for Aequilibrium came in 2016 when myself and everybody in my town were literally getting thrown out of our beds for months on end, by the most powerful series of earthquakes I’d experienced in my life. I was lucky to live far enough from the epicenter that the house I live in didn’t get badly damaged, but it sure was scary as hell.
Other villages had their historic centers basically wiped out though, and many people lost everything they had, family, house, hometown, workplace, everything. In many places, they’re still only getting started with rebuilding the houses, but there is a strong will in those communities to come back home and make it stronger than before. So we started working out how to tell the story of those people.
We ended up with a fictional character who goes through something that echoes the real life events- in short, getting everything you ever had and took for granted taken away from you, having psychological issues because of that, deciding not to give up, having more psychological issues because of that, and finally accepting that it will take time before you can start to actually heal.
Omar Campitelli: Those earthquakes unfortunately struck our country in a completely unexpected way, causing serious damages on a human level that touched us a lot.
Dead Rhetoric: How were you able to gain special guests like actor/director Kai Ephron and Giuseppe Bassi among others for specific tracks on this record? Do you think it’s important to flesh out the main work that you develop as musicians with these special guests to achieve a broader, fuller final product?
Mattei: With Giuseppe Bassi (Dualized Dysfunction) there’s a collaboration that started a long time ago so it just feels natural to us to continue our path together. He’s very good at what he does so why change a winning team?
Kai happens to be my neighbor and he’s been a great help to us by suggesting the best ways to coordinate the band in order to optimize costs, publicity, and the business side in general. He’s a director and actor from the film industry so he definitely knows how to use his voice to be 100% credible and badass. Generally, I think that there’s always something to learn from the people you meet, and if you are able to listen, you might grow as a person as well! I see having a special guest (not only musicians) as a way to improve and add more depth to your work.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences for Noveria in the studio versus live performances? What have been some of the more memorable moments on stage/ tour with the band?
Campitelli: I remember one moment in particular on the stage in Belgium but… (laughs) I guess Francesco can answer better than me!
Mattei: It’s two different worlds. Can’t really compare them unless you mention the great times that accompany both situations. In the studio of course we like to have a good laugh every now and then to kill the pressure in order to work at our best in the best mood you can. Generally we don’t take ourselves very seriously so every time there’s a chance to joke around we definitely take it! Live gigs are what I personally prefer the most because you can really feel the positive energy on stage. There’s been more highlights and funny moments, honestly, than downfalls. Surely when we look at each other before hitting the stage, cheering with a beer saying, ‘Let’s kick some butts!’ it’s always very exciting and we throw that brutal feel back to our crowd and they love that!
Dead Rhetoric: How do you assess the development of Noveria in terms of a career? Where would you like to see the band go over the course of the next three to five years, and what do you think you need to concentrate on to move the band up to the next level in terms of a sustainable fanbase?
Mattei: The main goal is to grow as a band and as a company. I think both sides need to work together as well as possible in order for the band to be able to continue making music. So for sure we’re going to play live as much as we can, and we’re working hard to grow, trying our best to give our fans the coolest metal experience possible with our music.
We’re definitely aiming to play in Japan and the USA with this album, and we would love to do a live concert recording in the near future. Then, we’ll see what happens. Noveria has been rising slowly but constantly over time and I think we have lots to give! I don’t know where we might be in three or five years, but you can bet we’ll be playing music and keeping it metal!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider three of the most important albums that shaped your outlook and viewpoints on the power/progressive metal scene? And what have been some of your favorite concert memories of shows that you’ve taken in, purely as a concert attendee?
Mattei: Actually I think that the albums that struck me the most were coming from different genres and what you hear now is the combination of those: Master of Puppets (Metallica), The Divine Wings of Tragedy (Symphony X), Images and Words (Dream Theater), but also The Sacrament (Lamb of God), Hatebreeder (Children of Bodom), and Cyberpunk (Billy Idol). I left out many others, but the list would be very long! One of the best concerts I’ve seen so far was Meshuggah. That was a blast! Pure perfection and heaviness the only way it’s meant to be. Also their light show was mindblowing…incredible band with incredible chops.
Campitelli: Personally I listen to a lot of film soundtracks, but in this case I can firmly say that the key albums that gave me the right charge were: Hatebreeder, Iconoclast, and Temple of Shadows. My absolute favorite concert was the Rammstein show at Capannelle (Rome), I was completely ecstatic from the beginning to the end of the concert.
Dead Rhetoric: How do the band members handle conflict or problems when they arise, be it personal or business related to the band activities? Would you say that you have solid communication and respect for one another to resolve issues?
Mattei: I think one of the best qualities is that we respect each other all the way, as people and as co-workers. I can’t remember us having serious issues. Actually, I think it’s never really happened. None of us is a hothead and none of us has issues with ego so, we consider ourselves lucky from this point of view. Every time there’s an issue in the musical field we find the best way to solve it in a practical way, without hurting each other’s feelings. Sometimes it happens that I write a drum beat in a certain way with the computer drums and I get used to listening to it that way. In the drum sessions, our drummer Omar obviously re-adapts it to his own playing and style so the song changes for the best! I think that we’ve found a pretty cohesive way to work.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries you most about the world that we live in today? What do you think the average person needs to pay more attention to so that the world can be a better, safer place for future generations to enjoy and treasure?
Campitelli: It’s a hard question. There is a lot of chaos, this is certain, we are bombarded with media messages every day and we struggle to understand what we want from life. I think educating people on the impact of using social networks would help a lot.
Mattei: I personally think that with all the technology that surrounds us, we’re slowly getting used to using our brain way less than before. It’s too easy to reach things today in a way, seems like everything is just a click away and many times the excessive use of the mobile phone brings isolation, and takes away a lot more real, direct social approach. Individualism is definitely taking over in society and the sense of community is dying. Potentially there’s no more need to get out of your house to do things and that’s somehow scary for me, because I’m used to living in a small town where we all know each other, greet everybody we meet and don’t hesitate to help each other out if someone has a problem.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Noveria over the next twelve months to support the new album? Has work already begun behind the scenes on the songwriting for the follow-up – and if so, do you believe you will expand upon the direction of Aequilibrium or are you quite content with where things are going in terms of a style for the band?
Mattei: As mentioned before we’ll try to tour a bit over Italy and Europe to start with and we’re aiming to play in festivals within the prog/power genre. About new stuff it’s hard to say at this stage. Indeed we’re all very satisfied with Aequilibrium, but I think that there’s a lot more to add in the Noveria discography.
So, difficult to answer right now but usually, every time we start a new process for a record we aim to do things a bit different from what we did before. So I don’t know yet what it is going to be! Maybe a bit more proggy, maybe more atmospheric, or heavier. I think we still need to find the things we still haven’t done on the other albums in terms of styles and then work in that direction. I think there’s always room to improve even if not reinventing the wheel. Whatever it will be it will be killer! That’s for sure.